Materials Glossary – Precision Plastics


Acrylic (PMMA) - Acrylic Plexiglass

Poly(methyl methacrylate) commonly known as acrylic, acrylic glass, or plexiglass. It’s a scratch resistant and fairly strong plastic (stronger than glass). It’s main characteristic is its clarity. It’s often used as a substitute for glass. Acrylic has a melting temperature of about 266°F.

  • resistant to UV light
  • excellent clarity
  • has good scratch resistance
  • thermoformed at 288℉ - 320℉ (142℃ - 160℃)

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

Tough, impact resistant, and lightweight, ABS has a relatively low melting point of about 221℉. In addition to its toughness, it has some electrical insulation properties. It’s used to make many common objects including keyboard keycaps, canoes, and even LEGOs.

  • Excellent impact, chemical, and scratch resistance
  • Electrical resistance properties
  • Thermoformed at *300℉ - 400℉ (149℃ - 204℃)

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is a thermoplastic with a high strength-to-density ratio. It’s commonly used to make corrosion-resistant piping, plastic bags, shampoo bottles, and plastic chairs. It is typically used as a more economical alternative to plastics with similar applications. 

  • good chemical solvent resistance
  • excellent electrical insulating properties
  • high strength-to-density ratio
  • has a number of different uses from piping to bottles to 3-D printing
  • thermoformed at 300℉ - 340℉ (149℃ - 171℃)

High-impact polystyrene (HIPS)

High impact polystyrene is polystyrene that has been combined with other materials in order to make it more impact resistant. Although rigid, It is an easily thermoformed material and is often used for appliance components, packaging, and yogurt cups.

  • very cost efficient
  • moderate impact resistance, but easily molded and machined
  • very versatile & has many different uses
  • thermoformed at 300℉ - 360℉ (149℃ - 177℃)


Nylon is a synthetic polymer with a wide variety of uses. The name may be forever linked to women’s garments; however, it’s used in everything from clothing to car parts. Although it has a high melting point, it has low impact resistance. It’s impact resistance can be improved by combining it with other materials. 

  • good heat resistance
  • has a wide variety of uses
  • often used to make clothes, gears, bushings, and bearings
  • thermoformed at 428℉ (220℃)


Phenol formaldehyde (PF) resin is a thermoset plastic with a wide variety of uses. Its versatility stems from the various production methods, which add other materials in order to create a wide variety of resins with different characteristics. PF is molded using pressure or compression molding as well as injection molding. It is often used to make billiard balls, countertops, and adhesives. 

  • cost effective material
  • variety of resins with specialize properties
  • very lightweight & impact resistant
  • can be pressure/compression molded & injection molded

Polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG)

PETG is a modified version (or copolymer) of PET/polyester. Transparent, good chemical resistance, and an impact resistance comparable to polycarbonate make this a very desirable thermoplastic. It’s often used in medical applications because of its ability to withstand harsh sterilization processes. It has a variety of uses including food & drink containers, machine guards, and even the protective face masks found in the NBA.

  • impact resistance is comparable to polycarbonate
  • more cost effective than polycarbonate
  • ideal when strength & budget are concerns
  • thermoformed at 250℉ - 320℉ (121℃ - 160℃)

Polycarbonate (PC)

Unlike most thermoplastics, polycarbonate can undergo forming at room temperature without breaking or cracking. It is highly impact resistant and transparent. It’s commonly used to make plastic lenses, vehicle headlights, ballistics glass (“bulletproof” glass), and mobile phone casings.

  • very strong & high impact resistant
  • good optical clarity
  • has good electrical insulation properties
  • can be formed at room temperatures
  • thermoformed at 350℉ - 375℉ (177℃ - 191℃)

Polyethylene (PE) - Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW)

This is the most widely used plastic in the world and comes in many forms including HDPE, LDPE, UHMW, and more. It has a relatively low melting point and is easy to work with, making it a very commercially viable thermoplastic. It is used to make everything from plastic bags to bottles to waste receptacles.

  • good impact, chemical, and electrical resistance
  • low cost
  • has good electrical insulation properties
  • broad range of applications
  • has multiple forms based on density
  • thermoforming temperatures:

HDPE: 300℉ - 340℉ (149℃ - 171℃)

UHMW: 280℉ - 300℉ (138℃ - 149℃)

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world, second only to polyethylene. Although similar to polyethylene, polypropylene is harder and more heat resistant. It is used in a variety of products like reusable food containers and piping. It’s toughness, flexibility, and resistance to fatigue make it suitable for applications such as living hinges.

  • widely used and has many applications
  • resistant to fatigue
  • resistance to corrosion makes it suitable for piping
  • thermoformed at 320℉ - 350℉ (160℃ - 177℃)

Polystyrene (PS)

Rigid and low cost, polystyrene is desirable when an economical thermoplastic with relatively moderate impact resistance is needed. It’s often used to make disposable cutlery & dinnerware, CD cases, and disposable razors.

  • widely used and has many applications
  • low cost option
  • easily formed and molded
  • thermoformed at 300℉ - 375℉ (149℃ - 190℃)

polysulfone (PSu)

Polysulfone (PSU) refers to a high performance plastic and the family of plastics to which it belongs. PSU is a rigid, transparent (yellowish tint) thermoplastic. It has a melting temperature that’s so high it is considered fire retardant. PSUs are typically used in applications that are exposed to extreme heat or corrosive chemicals. Its toughness makes it a good alternative to polycarbonate when rigidity and cost are not big factors.

  • very tough and strong
  • very stable at high temperatures
  • used in automotive, medical, and food industries
  • can withstand harsh sterilizing processes 
  • thermoformed at 365℉ (180℃)


PTFE is better known by the trademarked name Teflon™. It is a high performance thermoplastic that maintains its toughness and durability even at extreme temperatures. PTFE is self-lubricating and has one of the lowest friction coefficients of any solid. In fact, there’s so little friction, bugs can’t even stick to it. Low friction and a high melting temperature make PTFE perfect for non-stick cookware, windshield wiper blades, and piping. 

  • maintains strength and durability at extreme temperatures
  • used as wiring insulation in electronics
  • has a very high melting temperature
  • very low friction
  • thermoformed at 620℉ (327℃)

polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

PVC plastic is the third most-used plastic in the world. It is relatively dense and strong, making it an ideal rigid plastic that can withstand extreme temperatures and impacts. Its low cost coupled with its strength make it an attractive option. PVC is commonly used for sewage pipes, commercial signage, electric cables, flooring, faux leather clothing and more.

  • low cost and readily available
  • relatively dense and strong
  • good impact resistance
  • thermoformed at 280℉ - 300℉ (138℃ - 149℃)



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Our team members bring multiple disciplines and levels of experience to each project. We also use cutting edge machinery to quickly and efficiently manufacture products. Our high level of production has allowed us to fabricate over 200,000 face shields a week. We maintain that same level of quality on every project.


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